In adopting the 2021-2027 fisheries and aquaculture fund, the European Parliament aims to support the blue economy, protect biodiversity and promote international ocean governance.
The new European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF), adopted this week, is designed to encourage member states to invest in making the fisheries and aquaculture sectors more competitive and helping develop a sustainable blue economy, new markets and technologies. Protecting and restoring biodiversity is also among the fund’s priorities.
At least 15% of national allocations will have to be spent on actions to foster fisheries control and data collection, and to counter illegal and unregulated fishing.
‘The new EMFAF was negotiated at a challenging time. The EU fleet lost important fishing grounds because of Brexit, the seafood value chain was paralysed because of the pandemic, and there was pressure to reach an agreement in the WTO on fisheries subsidies,’ said rapporteur Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES).
‘In addition, the young generation is reluctant to enter the profession, CO2 emissions must be reduced in line with the Green Deal and international obligations, and aquaculture production is stagnating, while in third countries the sector is thriving. This fund seeks to contribute to mitigating these challenges.’
At the Parliament’s request, member states will have to take into account the needs of small-scale coastal fishing and describe what they plan to do to help it develop. The constraints experienced by outermost regions are also addressed in the new fund, as the additional costs these regions face due to their remote location will continue to be compensated.
To bring younger people into fishing communities, where workers’ average age is over 50, the new EMFAF can finance the first vessel or partial ownership (of at least 33%) for fishermen younger than 40 who have at least five years of experience or have acquired an equivalent qualification.
Fishermen who have to temporarily stop working to abide with certain conservation measures will be compensated. Those who have to scrap or decommission a vessel if their activities cease permanently will be supported and equipment needed to comply with landing obligations and EU fishing control rules, such as vessel tracking and electronic reporting devices, will be financed under EMFAF.
A stipulation is that measures under the EMFAF should not lead to an increase in fishing capacity, except if it directly results from an increase in gross tonnage necessary for improving safety, working conditions or energy efficiency.
The regulation will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and it will apply retroactively as from 1st January 2021.
The European Parliament and Council reached an agreement on the new EMFAF in December 2020, based on the proposal published by the Commission in June 2018. The duration of the Programme is aligned with the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The previous EMFF budget covering 2014 to 2020 amounted to €6.4 billion.